by Stephen Mifsud
   24 Jun 2024      ()
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Iris albicans   (Cemetery Iris)

Iris albicans  (IRIDACEAE.) 
Images for this profile are taken from the Maltese Islands after year 2000.

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Profile Date Dec-2007 (taxon update: Aug-2021)
Citation for this page Mifsud, S. (2022). Iris albicans - datasheet created on Dec-2007. Retrieved from on 24-Jun-2024

Nomenclature and Basic Information

Species name :

Iris albicansLange
Published in Vid. Meddel. Dansk Naturh. Foren. Kjøbenhavn 1860: 76 (1861)

Synonyms :
(basionym or principal syn.)

Iris madonna Sprenger
Full list of synonyms : [Euro+Med] [PlantList] [IPNI] [POWO] [Catalogue of Life] []

Plant Family :

Iridaceae Juss. (The Iris Family)
23 species from the Iridaceae family are recorded from the Maltese Islands.

English name(s) :

Cemetery Iris, White cemetery Iris, White flag Iris

Maltese name(s) :

Fjurduliż abjad

Status for Malta :

Naturalised Alien. Species that was introduced in Malta after year 1492 (Columbus' discovery of the New World) and spreads and integrates to form established, non-invasive populations. Species may become become invasive if it widespreads rapidly.

Frequency :

Very Common     Common    Frequent     Scarce     Rare    Very rare    Extinct

Growth form :

Raunkiaer lifeform [info]: GEOPHYTE ( bearing underground bulbs, rhizomes, stolons, etc. )
Germination [info]: Monocotyledon

Legal Protection :

Not legally protected till the last update of this website (2/Mar/2022)

Red List (1989) :

Not listed in the Red Data Book of the Maltese Islands

Flowering Time :

March – May

Colour of Flowers:



Not particularly toxic

Name Derivation :

Iris: Greek word for rainbow alluding to the wide variety of colours that the flowers of this genus possess. Iris was also the goddess of the rainbow in Greek mythology. Further info: [1] [2] [3]. (Greek origin )
albicans: Having a whitish colour or becoming white at maturity. (Latin origin )

Planting in rural areas :

Can be planted in rural areas according to ERA Guidelines

Remarks :

Reported in Maltese Florae and floristic reports as Iris florentina but this species is different, primarily in having petals with a light blue hue or patch at the lower part of the tepals. Some authors consider this species as a synonym of I. florentina, however it was found to be a natural hybrid and hence it is distinct from I. florentina.

Description, Habitat and Distribution
Habitat in Europe: Originally planted in Moslem cemeteries in S. Europe and locally naturalized in dry, rocky or grassy places. .
Preferred habitat in Malta: Disturbed ground and rocky places especially beside English military dwellings or stations
Botanical Description: Stems 40-90 cm, stout, with branches at least 5 cm long in the upper half, the lower flowers well-exserted from the subtending bract even in bud. Leaves 30-70 cm × 20-35 mm, somewhat glaucous, more or less straight. Flowers (3-)4(-5), pure white; the lower subsessile on the main axis and enclosed by the subtending bract up to anthesis. Spathes 35-55 mm, scarcely exceeding the hypanthial tube, scarious in the upper 1/2-2/3. Hypanthial tube 17-25 mm. Falls 55-90 × 40-60 mm, cuneate-obovate, without a distinct claw. Standards 55-90 × 45-60 mm, broadly elliptical, with a short, wide claw. Seeds pyriform, rugose, reddish-brown.
Distributional range: South and east Europe, but spreading westwards through cultivation

Distributional map in Europe
and the Mediterranean region (2018):
Occurrences in Europe.
(from Flora Europaea pre year 1993):
Introduced in  Crete, France (incl. Monaco and Channel Islands but excluding Corse), Spain (incl. Andorra but excl. the Balaerics), Doubtful in ex-Jugoslavia, Portugal, Doubtful in S Arabia
Occurrences in Europe and the Mediterranean region.
(from Euro+Med Checklist, 2019)
  Country codes  
[Bl Ca Cr Cy Ga Hs IJ LS Lu Ma Tu(A)]

Links & Further literature (1 papers)

Google Web

Google Images

Google Scholar

Research Gate




Med Checklist

Cat. of Life



World Flora Online

Plants of the World Online

Vienna Virt. Herb.

RBGE Herbarium

KEW Herbarium




Contribution to the alien flora of the Maltese Islands: New records, observations on invasive species and taxonomic updates Stephen Mifsud  (2017)
Kindly Email if there are papers and publications about local studies or information about this species to be included in the list above.

Species Images (10 images)
   Iris albicans   -   Image Code: IRSAL-0.
   Iris albicans   -   Image Code: IRSAL-1.
   Iris albicans   -   Image Code: IRSAL-2.
   Iris albicans   -   Image Code: IRSAL-3.
   Iris albicans   -   Image Code: IRSAL-4.
   Iris albicans   -   Image Code: IRSAL-5.
   Iris albicans   -   Image Code: IRSAL-6.
   Iris albicans   -   Image Code: IRSAL-7.
   Iris albicans   -   Image Code: IRSAL-8.
   Iris albicans   -   Image Code: IRSAL-9.

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Section B:   Where have you seen this plant on the Maltese Islands?
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Try to be as concise as possible. Examples: Dingli Cliffs (near chapel), Wied Incita (Zebbug side), Triq il-Kbira (Qormi), Barriera ta' Ghajn Abdul (Xlendi), Fields East of Salib tal-gholja (Siggiewi). GPS co-ordinates are also welcomed!
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